Directed by David Gelb, this supernatural horror film takes place at a medical facility where a group of students and professionals try to unlock the door to the afterlife and cheat death.  The lead medical researchers, Zoe and Frank Mcconnell, played by Olivia Wilde and Mark Duplass, are tasked to find a way to sustain a living being from dying to give doctors more time with their dying patients.  The other members of this group consist of a documentarian, Eva (Sarah Bolger); and two other med students, Niko (Donald Glover), and Clay (Evan Peters).

The beginning of this film starts off rather upbeat and hopeful when they are able to bring back a dog from death.  But things start to run down hill with the resurrection of Rocky, the dog.  If you can imagine Pet Cemetary with the aggression of Cujo, then that perfectly describes Rocky’s behavior.  The film starts to explore the myth of how much we understand the brain.  It touches the line between religion and cold hard science fact of what happens when people describe seeing a bright white light at the moment of death.  Lazarus-Effect-02By using the white light theory, our brilliant medical researchers create a chemical called DMT or the Lazarus serum to further their research.  But a fatal accident during their experiment kills one of their lead researchers, Zoe.

The story takes a familiar turn with reference to Flatliners and any other demon possession movie known to man.  Olivia Wilde, who plays Zoe the resurrected victim, is sort of creepy when she displays robotic like postures to resemble something inhuman. The shock factors are good when she terrorizes the researchers, but it didn’t have any creativity.  Frank, Zoe’s husband, who is grieving over the loss of his wife, is somewhat predictable.  His refusal to listen to reason from the other researchers is something you would expect from a grieving loved one, but Frank comes off as annoying and nauseous to watch.  Throughout the movie, it is drilled in our heads that there is something wrong with Zoe, but it is never clearly defined scientifically or supernaturally.  Sure there are moments in the film where she mentions she was being trapped in hell for years, but in actually she was dead for only a couple of hours.  Her physical appearance changed a little, with her eyes turning black, but nothing else of her altered.  The frantic behavior of the other researchers: Clay, Eva, and Niko paint us a picture of hopelessness and despair in dealing with Zoe.

The issues that deal with the afterlife have been addressed so many times in films that people are desensitized to the subject.  It is a debate to what we know and what we perceive to be on the other side.  Heaven, hell, it is anyone’s opinion as to whether they exist, and yet we make hundreds of movies giving us interpretations of what is on the great beyond.  Do we have a soul?  Film Title: The Lazarus EffectIf we do have a soul, where does it go?  This film addresses the question, and it also asks us the questions are we ready to accept the consequences if we play with things we fully don’t understand.  Demonic possession is also a tantalizing subject that many directors love to explore.  Scientific evidence show that these days demonic possession can be explained through psychological manifestations within the human mind.  That begs the question in this film.  After Zoe was brought back to life, did she bring something back that is dark, and malevolent, or did the DMT serum do something to her brain that changed her mental state?

Even though this film is a supernatural horror movie, it raises questions about our mortality, and whether or we are ready to deal with death.  I’m not a religious person, but there is one thing I’ve learned from my Sunday school classes….we can’t play God!!  It’s a decent film, but the storyline is a little flat and somewhat boring. It did have lots of good shock factor moments with some chilling performances from Olivia Wilde.  If you want to see this film, then I suggest you go to the matinee showing where the prices are cheaper.  I give this film two and a half out of five movie stubs.